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Exiting the beef industry

heifers grazing in a pasture

I’ve written a couple of articles about benefiting from the current strong cattle prices. This month I want to target a group of producers from age 60 to 90. There are a lot of cows owned by producers in that age group. I happen to be one of them.

With today’s strong market this might be an opportune time to exit the beef industry. Cattle prices have basically doubled in the last year. If you are anywhere near retiring you might want to consider this fact. No one knows what future prices may be. What we do know is today’s price.

There are basically three stages to a business cycle. First comes the startup. At this stage we are young and ambitious. We are full of energy. Things are exciting. Life is good.

The second stage is operating the business. This might go on for 40 or more years. Hopefully you enjoyed your business and can look back with fond memories.

The third stage is exiting the business. For many this is the most difficult stage. We are older. Our health may be an issue. We are being called to give up something that has been our life and move to something unknown. This is a scary time. If there is ever a time for rational, unemotional thought this is it. Be assured that there is life after retirement. In fact with a positive attitude and a good outlook retirement can be as enjoyable as any other stage of life.

To have a truly successful business I think it is necessary to deal with all three stages of the business cycle. I am very fortunate that my dad was an excellent role model in this regard. He was involved in a lot of organizations and operated two businesses. As I look back I am amazed at how Dad let things go when the time was right. He never held on too long. He exited when the time was right and moved on to something else. I hope to be blessed with his good judgment.

All of us will exit the beef industry one way or another. I can see two main ways this will happen. The important point is that each one of us has the power to choose how we will deal with this important decision.

The first group will have the good fortune to have a son, daughter or some other relative take over and carry on the business. This is a wonderful position to be in. If you are in this group I commend you for your planning and foresight. If you have an opportunity to take this road I encourage you to action. Don’t delay, get some help and make a plan. Implement the plan and reap the rewards.

The second group will be in the position of being the last to farm or ranch in their family. This isn’t good or bad, it just is. This group can be divided into two subgroups. One will deal with the reality. They will make plans to downsize and/or retire. Life will continue to be good. The last group will deny reality. They will run their business until forced by illness or death to turn the reins over to someone else. This may not be the wisest choice.

Points to Ponder

  1. Who is best suited to implement an exit strategy for your business?
  2. Do you want to finish your business cycle?
  3. Do you want your spouse, children or an estate lawyer to finish your business cycle?
  4. Do you want to sacrifice yourself and thereby eliminate your spouse from having to finish the business cycle? I believe this is the definition of Love.

Do I know what is best for you in your unique situation? Definitely not.

Do I believe you can find your own best choice by deliberation and thought? Definitely.

Ending the business cycle is difficult. This is perhaps the most challenging part of the business cycle. I believe it is important, however, and I wish you success in whatever road you choose to travel. Happy trails.

Don Campbell ranches with his family at Meadow Lake, Sask., and teaches Holistic Management courses. He can be reached at 306-236-6088 or by email.

About the author


Don Campbell

Don Campbell ranches with his family at Meadow Lake, Sask., 
and teaches Holistic Management courses.



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